Wednesday 30 September 2015


I was working in Uddingston, Lanarkshire today, and went for a walk during my lunchtime. I came across the Jimmy Johnstone Memorial Garden in Viewpark.

Jimmy Johnstone was probably the greatest ever Scottish footballer, and was at the height of his career in the 60s and 70s when I was at school. A player of great skill, intelligence and tenacity, he was an inspiration to a generation of schoolboys.
In the gardens there is this superb statue, which captures the spirit of his playing.

Whilst looking up details of him for this post, I found there is a footballing academy named in his memory.

And the coincidence? Today would have been his 71st birthday, he having passed away in 2006.

I found this very fitting obituary to him in the Guardian:

Jimmy Johnstone

Brilliant Celtic and Scotland winger who took the European Cup with the Lisbon Lions
Little, red-haired Scotsman Jimmy Johnstone, who has died aged 61, was an integral member of the remarkable Celtic team that won nine Scottish soccer championships in a row between 1966 and 1974. He was also one of the Lisbon Lions, the Celtic team that became the first British side to lift the European Cup in 1967. A classical winger, famed for his dynamic speed, immaculate control and ability to go outside the opposing full back, he was capped 23 times for Scotland, and scored 129 goals in 515 appearences for Celtic. In a poll among the fans in 2002, he was voted the club's best ever player.
Off the field, Johnstone was never the most docile of players, clashing time and again with Celtic's illustrious manager, Jock Stein - to the point that Stein's own mother once rebuked him: "I think you're very hard on that wee fellow." Stein, who felt Johnstone was highly effective, "especially against continentals", once dropped him because "he was doing things he wasn't supposed to do". And there was a comical occasion when, in training camp with the Scotland team at Largs a month before the World Cup finals in Germany in 1974, Johnstone went out in a boat, found himself adrift and had to be rescued.
Born in Uddingston, near Glasgow, he was signed as a teenager - at just 5ft4in and weighing 9½ stone - by Celtic in 1961, after Manchester United had expressed an interest, and made his debut in the 1962-63 season, playing four games for just one goal. The following season saw him fully established in the side, playing 25 games for half a dozen goals - and so it went on for many seasons. Winning Scotland under-23 caps in that first full season, he made his debut for the full national side against Wales in October 1964, displacing the usual incumbent, another clever rightwinger, Rangers' Willie Henderson.
Johnstone made only sporadic appearances for Scotland, even though his solitary game in the 1965-66 season (against England at Hampden Park) saw him score two spectacular goals and, at least in the second half, confirm the dominance over the hapless England left-back Keith Newton that he had shown a few weeks earlier at Newcastle, when the Scottish League beat the England Football League 3-1.
Oddly enough, Johnstone's performance at Hampden Park that day took some time to ignite. Early in the second half, he missed a good heading chance, enabling England to break away and score. But when Denis Law slipped him through a square England defence, Johnstone at last showed his pace and power, racing away to beat goalkeeper Gordon Banks from close range. With Scotland 4-2 down and time running out, Johnstone scored again, the reward of his persistence. Jim Baxter's free kick floated over a static English defence, enabling Johnstone to chase it, catch the ball almost on the goal line, and smash it home off the underside of the bar.
The following season saw Celtic's triumphant path to the European Cup final. In Nantes, in the first leg of the second round, Johnstone's form was irresistible; the French press nicknamed him the Flying Flea. In the Lisbon final against Inter Milan, Johnstone and the other Celtic winger, Bobby Lennox, had orders to move into the middle, leaving the flanks to the attacking full-backs. Celtic deservedly won 2-1. They then contested the ill-starred intercontinental championship a few months later. The notorious play-off against Racing Club of Buenos Aires in Montevideo saw Johnstone forced to wash the spittle out of his hair at half-time, and sent off in the second half.
Celtic reached the European Cup final again in 1970, losing 2-1 after extra time to the Dutch team, Feyenoord. The campaign was notable for their double victory against the then dominant Leeds United in the semi-finals. Johnstone was outstanding in both games. In the first leg, at Elland Road, he tirelessly used the whole of the right touchline, often dropping deep to collect the ball, tormenting Leeds' England left-back, Terry Cooper, who did not dare to overlap in his usual manner. At Hampden Park in the return, Johnstone was just as effective.
He was given a free transfer at the end of the 1974-75 season and then played for San Jose Earthquakes, Sheffield United, Dundee, Sbelbourne and Elgin City. He was diagnosed in November 2001 with motor neurone disease, which gradually confined him to his home in Lanarkshire. Some consolation came in the 90-minute documentary film of his playing career, Lord of the Wing, in 2004, in which he was praised by such stars as Alfredo Di Stéfano, Eusebio and Denis Law.
He is survived by his wife Agnes, a son and two daughters.
Brian Wilson writes: For that generation of supporters who saw Celtic become the first British club to win the European Cup, Jimmy Johnstone was the epitome of all that was best in the way their team played football - a brilliant entertainer, possessed of wonderful balance, great speed and dazzling skill. And all the better for the fact that he was one of themselves; a local boy with a genius for football.
Jinky himself had no doubt about how that talent had been honed, in an era when there was not a lot of money about. "Football was the greatest part of our lives, just like the boys from Brazil and Spain. They lived in poverty, like us, and that's where all the great players came from - the street." The astonishing, unrepeatable aspect of the Celtic side that beat Inter Milan in Lisbon was that, like Johnstone, they all came from Glasgow and its environs.
The Lisbon Lions, now reduced to eight survivors following the deaths of Bobby Murdoch (obituary, May 17 2001), Ronnie Simpson (obituary, April 22 2004) and Johnstone, have remained an intensely close-knit unit throughout their lives, probably because they were all from essentially the same background. "I look back now," said Johnstone, "and think, bloody hell, we did achieve great things. But at the time, we were just an ordinary bunch of lads."
His infectious personality and sense of humour made him a huge, continuing favourite with all he encountered. When the cruel illness of motor neurone disease struck him, he devoted himself to learning more about it and assisting the efforts that were going on around the world to combat it, though he knew that the fruits of such research would come too late to save his own life. He supported the Motor Neurone Disease Association, which will benefit from a tribute fund established in his memory.
· James Connolly Johnstone, footballer, born September 30 1944; died March 12 2006

Monday 28 September 2015

Down South in the North East

I've spent the last couple of weeks working mostly in North East England, around Newcastle, Darlington and Middlesbrough. This area is normally referred to as 'The North East', even thought it's South of where I live! I took my camera with me and photographed a few things of interest.

The hotel I was staying in last week (in Newcastle) has barriers to stop non-guests parking in their car park.

Next to it was a level crossing (where a railway line crosses the road) without any barriers, just lights and a sounder.

Shows the priorities – it's more important to stop people parking where they shouldn't than it is to stop them driving in front of a train!

One day I was working in Hartlepool and paid a visit to the Headland area of the town. This is the old part of town, which was walled in the Middle Ages (to protect it from Scots!). Very little of the medieval town survives, but the later (mostly Victorian) buildings have been kept to the old layout and more modern buildings have been designed sympathetically to blend in.
I saw this very nice park, the building at the end is a public toilet but that doesn't mean it shouldn't look nice.

There's a small beach, tide was in when I was there, along with the remains of the town wall.

And this interesting church.

Being on the coast Hartlepool was once a fishing town, and this has been remembered on these railings.

I also saw this very well preserved Vespa scooter. Not sure what model it is, but it has a pre-1963 registration.

On the A19 road between Hartlepool and Newcastle I'd seen a sign saying 'Transport Museum', at the same exit as the Nissan factory. I followed the signs, (which changed to 'Aviation Museum'), to the factory, and found the museum up a narrow road next to the main gates.
It's one of those wonderfully ramshackle museums run by enthusiasts, with exhibits being worked on, all sorts of bits and pieces just sitting around, and a great air of 'just explore the place'.
First shed I went to was full of military aircraft.

See what I mean about 'full'!
Ex-Greek Air Force Republic F-84F Thunderstreak
Ex-Argentine Air Force FMA Pucara (found in the Falkland Islands)

Next shed has some vehicles and equipment awaiting restoration. I particularly liked this fire engine.

Next to that was shed with a collection on military vehicles.

One I can remember, a Canadian built Dodge. The British Army used these at the start of WW2, and after the war they were sold off. When I was a teenager in the 70s, I can remember local firm still had one – shows how well built they were.

Note white star – after US entry in WW2, a lot of Allied vehicles has this added to aid identification.

In addition to the ex-Army Can Am (a previous Friday bike), there was this Raleigh Runabout – not sure any army ever used them!

Another shed had some trams, you couldn't go past the barrier just behind these two due to ongoing work.

Outside there was a Vulcan Bomber.

And a Lightning fighter.

Well worth the £5 entry. Museum website.

I spent a few hours in Newcastle city centre. To tie in with the ongoing Rugby World Cup being held in England, a large television screen had been set up in the street showing games (Scotland v Japan when I was there). Was very popular and had drawn a large crowd.

Saw this really good vintage clothes shop!

And this clock.

There's a street called Westgate Road (known locally as 'the hill') that has lots of motorcycle shops. I saw one which specialised in classic bikes, unfortunately it was shut but I managed this photo through the window.
(Blue 'blob' at the rear wheel is the company logo on my shirt!)

As I'm finishing this job in two weeks and starting one without travelling, this was a good opportunity to take advantage of being away from home.

Friday 25 September 2015

Friday bike

Was at a museum this week and saw this weeks 'Friday bike'.

 ex British Army Can Am 250

The Army bike was based on Can Am's 'Track'n'Trail (TnT) 250, a successful enduro bike of the 1970s.

The British Army bought 5,000 bikes in two batches, 1978 and 1980, and it was also used by the armies of Canada and Belgium. The British Army used them for a very short period as they were replaced from 1983 onwards by the Armstrong MT 500, and remaining bikes sold to the general public. A lot were used as enduros and I saw some being used by couriers. They were very cheap and I seriously thought about buying one in the mid 80s as a winter bike before being given my first MZ250.
Army bikes usually had these panniers (which looked like old WW2 backpacks!)

They were usually referred to as 'Bombadiers' due to the engine manufacturer's name cast on the side of the engine, but pronounced the British way rather than the French way the company used.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Skorpion project

As you'll know, I've got a silver Skorpion Traveller that I've now owned for 15 years. I also have a white Traveller that I bought in 2008, but have never ridden!

I was offered the bike so cheaply that I couldn't turn it down. I didn't really 'need' it, but an extra bike is always useful. I put it in my garage and started doing some work on it.

I believe that the bike started life as a Tour and had been converted to Traveller spec at some point. Reasons that the bike is an early 1998 model and under the sytem here in Britain has an 'R' prefix on its registration. I have never seen a Traveller without an 'S' (late 98 onwards) or later registartion. The frame doesn't have the small plate on each side that Travellers and Sports have.

This is where the fairing of the Sport attaches, but has no function on the Traveller and the threaded hole in it is plugged. The wiring to the headlight had been modified, and it was fitted with a fuel pump (this was dropped by the time the Traveller was introduced as far as I know).

The bike was in reasonably good condition, the bodywork was a bit scraped and scratched with cracking round the mounting holes (not uncommon), the rear wheel bearings were worn out, and there was a 'clonk' from the rear suspension. The bodywork was repaired and resprayed, and the wheel and suspension bearings replaced. This was detailed in this post in 2011. According to the odometer, it had only done 31,618 miles (50,884 km).

Those of you who know me in 'real life' are aware that I had a number of personal crises round this time and the bike was abandoned in the garage with only the occasional bout of work done on it and the engine started occasionally to stop it seizing.

However, last week I got a new job which I'll be starting in three weeks time, and (for the first time in 15 years), I'll be able to commute to work on a bike, so it was get the bike out to have a good look at it with a mind to finally put it back on the road. I'd attached a remote fuel tank and a spare battery last weekend and it started first press of the button – so far, so good! I gave it a good clean to see what work needed done to it.

During a previous bout of work I'd fitted a Brembo front brake caliper, a Yamaha TRX850 headlight (much better than the standard unit), and a home made rack. I'd also removed the fuel pump as it's not actually needed and just creates problems. MZ realised this and stopped fitting it to later Skorpions.

After I'd repainted the bodywork I'd stored it in my loft to prevent it from getting damaged in the garage. I did a 'dry run' fitting of the body work with a few screws to see what it would look like. I also fitted one pannier and one of the two topboxes I've got for it.

This is the bigger of the two, this is the smaller one.

Which one will be fitted will depend on how much stuff I have to carry each day. Probably it'll only be my lunch and a lock, so it'll probably be the small one.

The bike doesn't need much work to put it back on the road. I've got a few things I'll fit, but they might wait until later.
Heated grips, Scottoiler, and alarm (which might not get fitted – haven't made my mind up yet).

So that's my new project. Hopefully it won't take too much work or expense to get back on the road. I'll keep you informed of how I get on.

Friday bike

One we didn't get in Britain.
Honda PS250 'Big Ruckus'

The Big Ruckus was a 250cc 'feet forward' scooter sold in Japan, North America, and possibly some other countries, but not here.
One of its design features was that the rear part of the saddle could hinge up to provide a backrest for the rider. This also exposed a large luggage carrying platform.
It could also carry a bag on a small rack above the headlights.

I quite like the Big Ruckus as it shows thinking outside the normal parameters of bike and scooter design. The name 'Big Ruckus' was to tie it in with the 50cc scooter we got as the 'Zoomer', but sold as the 'Ruckus' in other countries.
Honda Zoomer


Model: Big Ruckus (PS250)
Vehicle Type: Four-Stroke
Color: Safety Yellow
Engine: SOHC; 2-valves per cylinder, Liquid-cooled single-cylinder 4-stroke
Displacement: 249 cc
Bore x Stroke: 72.7 mm x 60.0 mm
Carburetion: 30.0 mm CV with auto-enricher
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Ignition: Fully transistorized
Transmission: Automatic V-Matic belt drive CVT
Front: 33.0 mm hydraulic fork; 3.9 in. travel (99 mm)
Rear: Single-side swingarm w/single shock, no adjustability; 4.7 in. travel (119 mm)
Front: Single 240.0 mm disc w/CBS 3-piston caliper
Rear: 160.0 mm drum
Front: 110/90-12
Rear: 130/70-12
Dry Weight: 364 lbs. (164.7 kg)
Seat Height: 28.45 in. (721 mm)
Wheelbase: 57.3 in. (1,455 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gal. (12.1 l)

Monday 14 September 2015

Bygone era

Saw this in a Facebook post and I thought it was so good that I decided to steal share it.
It's been identified as a dealer in York, England and the picture was taken at the end of 1965 (Thunderball was released in December of that year).
Love how it sums up an era of bike shops that have largely disappeared – lots of bikes in one window and accessories in the other. The petrol pumps and Reliant 3 wheelers in the yard, and the lists of British motorbikes and bicycles they stocked. Ominous is the Honda sign above the door – an early sign of which way the market was heading!
Cars in front are an Austin A35 and an 'old style' Mini, and notice the ghostly figures at the upsatirs window!

Sunday 13 September 2015

Friday bike

Another one I saw on Ebay. This one is a bit of a 'love it or hate it', but I still think it's one of the best styled bikes ever.
Aprilia Moto 6.5

Powered by the Rotax 650cc engine used in Aprilia's Pegaso model, the Moto 6.5 was styled by designer Philippe Stark.
I've only ever seen one, and that was parked outside an art gallery!

Friday 4 September 2015

Friday bike

One I found an example of for sale on Ebay, but had never previously heard of.

1956 Indian Brave

Very nice, I thought - but something caught my eye:
Yes, the words 'Made in England' are on the side of the engine.

I did a bit of research, and found that the Brockhouse company (famous for their 'Corgi' folding motorcycle developed from the WWII 'Welbike' air portable bike) were a major shareholder in Indian and between 1950 and 1955 built the Indian Brave at their factory in Southport. Until 1954, these were only sold in the US, after that they were also on sale in the UK. Some models (like this one) remained unsold until 1956.
Not much technical detail about it other than it was a 250cc sidevalve with a 3 speed gearbox. Not particularly well designed or built, it wasn't a commercial success.